“Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself…And He came down with them and stood on a level place with a crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of people…who came to hear Him and be healed of their diseases, as well as those who were tormented with unclean spirits. And they were healed.”
The excerpt from Luke describes a pattern we see Jesus repeat throughout His life. He moves from solitude to his community and into ministry. We have to get the order right if we want to be effective followers.
Solitude – Jesus spent the night alone with God. Connecting with the Source. Getting His direction and validation from His Father.
Community – Jesus left solitude and surrounded Himself with His disciples. His community. Jesus didn’t attempt minister to others without His closest friends around Him.
Ministry – Jesus only went into His ministry after grounding Himself with His Father and the people who would walk with Him.
It’s so important for us to follow the pattern Jesus demonstrated for us. How can we follow the Wild Goose if we don’t allow space for God to enter in? In solitude, we seek the voice of our Father, words of validation and a sense of being seen by the One who matters most.
Unfortunately, we get the order messed up all the time. We skip solitude, and seek our affirmation and direction from those around us. We feel like we belong because of the work we do. Everything we should get from the Father, we try to grasp through the people around us or the work we do. And everything gets out of whack.
Do you feel invisible if you aren’t around your friends?
Is your sense of belonging based on what you do at work?
Are you uncomfortable with the idea of saying no?
We have to start with solitude. A plant won’t grow without roots. A fish can’t survive without water. You won’t last long without oxygen. We need to stay connected to Jesus to walk in step with Him.
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”
John 15: 4-5
If you try to do anything in your own power, you will ultimately fail. Through solitude, you can remain connected to the Vine, and bear fruit in your life. Creating some space to hear the voice of the Father is critical as you move along the path.
Following Jesus takes commitment. Dedication. Submission. And, if you want to remain in constant communion with God, if you want to grow fruit worthy of the Kingdom, it takes solitude.
Next week we will dig into some practical ways to make room in your life for God to enter in.
For further study:
If you’d like to learn more about solitude, there are a lot of great resources. The Art of Manliness website included solitude and silence in their series on spiritual disciplines: Solitude and Silence, and have even offered a couple of podcasts about the benefits of solitude (Leadership and Friendship). Once again, the Solitude chapter in Celebration of Discipline offers so much more depth to the subject (this book was also referenced in the AOM series). In addition to solitude, Pastor Steven Furtick has preached a couple pertinent series (Consider the Source and The Power of Same). Take some time to digest this meaty subject this week.
Bible verses to explore: Luke 6:12-18; John 15:1-8; Matthew 14:13-23; Mark 6:31; Luke 5:15; Matthew 17:1-9; Matthew 26:36-46
Walking the Path
How would you describe solitude? Do you currently have a place for solitude in your life?
Where do you find your validation: solitude, community, ministry? Some combination? Describe how your life follows (or not) this pattern.
Read Luke 6:12-18; John 15:1-8; Matthew 14:13-23; Mark 6:31; Luke 5:15; Matthew 17:1-9; Matthew 26:36-46. What resonates with these verses?